A main factor contributing to students’ motivation to cheat is the mentality that they will not be caught in the act. Of those who have been polled in a study, over 90% of cheaters did not believe they would be caught or face consequences (oedb.org, 2010). Along with this, it was discovered that most students who do cheat do not feel guilt, but rather feel that their actions were justified. With harsher punishments and stronger enforcement of policy, this poor mentality can be diminished, forcing students focus their energy towards earning their grades instead of creating new methods to cheat in the classroom. The students who do cheat frequently are just setting themselves up for future failure by not actually learning the material and reinforcing their already poor study habits and work ethic.
With academic cheating rising, the number of those actually being caught and punished is lowering. In fact, 95% of students who have cheated have not been caught (oedb.org, 2010). The lack of punishment isn’t the problem, it’s actually catching the students where faculty and administration is ineffective. For the most part, when a student is caught, they face their consequences, but only a few are actually forced to face these current consequences because their actions aren’t detected. Having a more detrimental punishment won't change anything until more kids are caught. Also, it is more likely that with harsher punishments students will find better ways to cheat to escape the repercussions. Then it will be even harder to actually catch the offenders.
I believe that harsher punishments would be slightly effective and stop the problem for a few kids, but overall will it really deter students from cheating? These theoretical harsher punishments can really only be effective if the students are caught, and with only 5% of offenders being caught, I think we are focusing on the wrong solution. We need to put more time into actually catching the students before coming up with newer, harsher punishments. Without having students that have been caught, what would be the purpose of implicating harsher punishments? It will scare some students yes, but for the most part, those who are that desperate to cheat will cheat anyway. In a way, allowing the students to cheat is a punishment in itself. When it comes to standardized testing, those students will not know the material and score much lower than those who have studied throughout the years. I do not believe cheating is a justified act, but I don’t believe having harsher punishments will change much.